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Brooks v. Hogan

United States District Court, N.D. New York

May 11, 2017

CHARLES BROOKS, Plaintiff,
v.
MICHAEL HOGAN, Defendants.

          CHARLES BROOKS C262223 Plaintiff, pro se.

          HON. ERIC T. SCHNEIDERMAN, New York State Attorney General, Attorney for Defendants.

          TIMOTHY P. MULVEY, ESQ., Ass't Attorney General.

          DECISION AND ORDER

          BRENDA K. SANNES U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff Charles Brooks commenced this action pro se and in forma pauperis pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 ("Section 1983") alleging violations of his constitutional rights. Dkt. No. 1 ("Compl."). Plaintiff is involuntarily civilly confined at the Central New York Psychiatric Center ("CNYPC") in the Sex Offender Treatment Program ("SOTP") under the custody of the New York State Office of Mental Health pursuant to Article 10 of the New York State Mental Hygiene Law. Compl. at 21. Plaintiff's second amended complaint is the operative pleading. Dkt. No. 33. The following claims set forth in the second amended complaint survived the Court's initial review: (1) the Fourteenth Amendment due process claims against defendants Sawyer, Maxymillian, Gonzalez, Bahl, Forshe, Solavieva, Golovko, Debroize, Bill, Cebula, Dawes, Grey, Velte, and Tedesco regarding plaintiff's placement in the MOD Unit in 2008; (2) the Fourteenth Amendment claims that defendants Bosco, Nowicki, Sawyer, Maxymillian, Gonzalez, Bahl, Forshe, Solavieva, Golovko, Debroize, Bill, Cebula, Dawes, Grey, Velte, and Tedesco denied plaintiff adequate mental health care; (3) the First Amendment denial of access to the courts claims against defendants Hogan, Miraglia, Bosco, and Nowicki; and (4) the Fourteenth Amendment conditions of confinement claims against defendants Sawyer, Maxymillian, Gonzalez, Bahl, Forshe, Solavieva, Golovko, Debroize, Bill, Cebula, Dawes, Grey, Velte, and Tedesco. See Dkt. Nos. 34, 71.

         Presently before the Court is plaintiff's motion requesting permanent injunctive relief in the form of his "immediate release" from civil confinement. Dkt. No. 88 at 1. Plaintiff argues that he is entitled to immediate release because of (1) the "unavailability of treatment, or individualized meaningful treatment at SOTP" and (2) the "unavailability of [a] psychiatrist and/or psychologist possessing experience in the field of Exhibitionism."[1] Dkt. No. 88-1 at 1. In the alternative, plaintiff requests a hearing on his motion for a permanent injunction. Dkt. No. 88 at 1.

         Plaintiff's motion for permanent injunctive relief is unopposed.[2] Plaintiff filed a supplemental submission in support of his request for permanent injunctive relief. Dkt. No. 102.[3]

         II. DISCUSSION

         "To obtain a permanent injunction, a plaintiff must succeed on the merits and 'show the absence of an adequate remedy at law and irreparable harm if the relief is not granted.'" Roach v. Morse, 440 F.3d 53, 56 (2d Cir. 2006) (quoting N.Y. State Nat'l Org. for Women v. Terry, 886 F.2d 1339, 1362 (2d Cir. 1989)) (other citation omitted). See also N.Y. Civil Liberties Union v. N.Y. City Transit Auth., 684 F.3d 286, 294 (2d Cir. 2012) (noting that to obtain a permanent injunction, "the moving party must demonstrate actual success on the merits") (citation and internal quotation marks omitted).

         Plaintiff commenced this action pursuant to Section 1983, which establishes a cause of action for "the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws" of the United States. 42 U.S.C. § 1983. "Section 1983 itself creates no substantive rights, [but] . . . only a procedure for redress for the deprivation of rights established elsewhere." Sykes v. James, 13 F.3d 515, 519 (2d Cir. 1993) (citation omitted).

         Here, plaintiff seeks an order of this Court directing his immediate release from civil commitment. Dkt. No. 88-1 at 1. However, plaintiff was previously advised that he may seek release only in a petition for a writ of habeas corpus; he may not seek such relief in a Section 1983 suit. See Dkt. No. 9 at 21 (citing Duncan v. Walker, 533 U.S. 167, 176 (2001) (noting that federal habeas corpus review is used to challenge the legality of a state court order of civil commitment); Buthy v. Comm'r of Office of Mental Health of N.Y.S., 818 F.2d 1046, 1051 (2d Cir. 1987) (petitioning for a writ of habeas corpus, after fully exhausting state court remedies, is the appropriate method for an individual to challenge the fact or duration of his involuntary civil commitment in a forensic unit of a psychiatric hospital) (citing, inter alia, Souder v. McGuire, 516 F.2d 820, 823 (3d Cir. 1975) ("There is no question about the appropriateness of habeas corpus as a method of challenging involuntary commitment to a mental institution."); O'Beirne v. Overholser, 287 F.2d 133, 136 (D.C. Cir. 1960) ("Habeas corpus is the traditional means of seeking release from illegal confinement. It is the normal means in this jurisdiction of testing the legality of detention in a mental hospital, whether based on civil or criminal proceedings."))). Thus, plaintiff has an adequate remedy at law - in the form of a habeas petition - to seek his release.[4] Accordingly, plaintiff's request for immediate release from civil confinement could be denied on this basis alone. See Roach, 440 F.3d at 56 (finding that to obtain permanent injunctive relief, a plaintiff must demonstrate the "absence of an adequate remedy at law").

         Construed liberally, plaintiff also argues that since the Court allowed some of his claims to survive the initial screening stage under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B), he has therefore demonstrated success on the merits of those claims. Dkt. No. 88-1 at 2-4.[5] While it is true that the Court allowed some of plaintiff's claims to proceed to service and discovery, the Court clearly advised plaintiff that it "expresse[d] no opinion as to whether the[ ] claims can withstand a properly filed motion to dismiss or for summary judgment." Dkt. No. 34 at 16-17. Therefore, plaintiff has not demonstrated success on the merits of his claims merely because they survived initial review.

         Finally, in his supplemental submission, plaintiff asserts that he is automatically entitled to the requested relief because his motion for permanent injunctive relief is unopposed. Dkt. No. 102 at 2-3. In support of this assertion, plaintiff points to Rule 7.1(b)(3) of the Local Rules of Practice ...


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